What's the best Blu-Ray player for 300.-350.

I just bought a Pioneer Kuros PDP-5020 and need to squeek a Blu-Ray player out of the budget. I'm thinking around 300. to 350. for now. Anyone with any suggestions on the most bang for the buck? Thanks
I recently picked up a Panasonic DMP BD35 and couldn't be happier. Profile 2.0, good upconversion, and I paid 249 at BB
I think the sound quality is fabulous, esp on Dolby HD Master. If you need 7.1 outputs for an older receiver, go with the BD55
Well, I can recommend the Panasonic DMP-BD35. I will be honest and state that I based this purchase on CNET's review and the fact that they made it an Editor's choice. And since I have a Panasonic Viera 58" Plasma, it mates with it very nicely. (Plus I got a fantastic deal on it from Fry's Electronics.)

CNET Review of Panasonic DMP-BD35

Good Luck in your search.

PS If you are thinking of buying the PS3 to get the built-in Blueray capabilities, make sure to get the optional BD remote, as the DVD controls on the game controller is a little funky. (And also know that if you buy a new PS3, that the current model's backwards compatibility (i.e. capable of playing older PS2 games) is not nearly as good as the original (60GB) PS3, as only that version was hardware driven, rather than software driven. In fact a good portion of the older PS2 games will not play at all.)
I have owned seven Blu-ray players and the best functionality I have found so far is in the Sony BDP-S350, and it can be had for <$200.
Save up a few more hunderd bucks and wait for the Oppo BDP-983 Blu Ray player with SACD and DVD-Audio. It also has bulit in Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master audio decoders with 7.1 analog outputs. If it follows Oppo's track record, it will be a giant killer. Only time will tell.
As Kennyt above, I have also done direct shootouts in home and found the S350 best video and functions, speed of loading, price, blu ray capability and SDVD capability the absolute best, and S550 has all of the above but if your looking for more audio performance s550 is a edge better and both far better than others available..

A thread on this subject from this site I attached below, with very in depth reasons and differences of all these players including the current oppo without blu ray which will be the same player doing blu ray soon, but if you like about 90% of the others have no use for SACD then you do not have to pay double the price and wait for this oppo, which honestly if you are heavily invested in SACD it would be obvious you have a good capable player already and no need to try and go with a new universal machine.

Besides today technology has moved on, sony failed with SACD and won with blu ray, and already now Hi res downloads and Blu ray audio is beginning and the future of audio formats so if you can even find a SACD disc today good luck, of course online you can order them! Funny because sony dropped SACD from their machine just after everybody else started adding it, and now they invented blu ray which is quickly taking over and they do have the best machine in performance, speed, and build quality available for the right price. Anyway my only point is don't wait on oppo at this point for the wrong reasons.. I have only had oppo in my system for nearly 5 years with nobody coming close, this is now a different story.

The s550 is also which is unknown the only player that has the full out of the box 2.0 profile, along with USB memory included from sony, and is the only stand alone Blu ray machine in picture that beats the PS3 which is of course based of the same platform etc…. The s350 needs to have the Memory added which you buy, and upgraded online, and does not do all the True HD dolby whatever formats.. Only the s550 does and Oppo will basically copy this and possibly add SACD and DVD-A…So in the end the S550 even if you gotta pay 50 to 100 more to order it is worth the extra in my opinion, oh and it is a much beefier transport physically. The S350 is currently the smallest body blu ray player (most compact) from any existing manufacture, which is interesting because the sonys also weighed in much heavier picking them up!

Finally the S550 is the Fastest and Quietest being all these blu ray players have internal Fans... You put your ear down by the others and you will hear them.. The sony is virtually dead silent..

I second the Sony 350, but for Undertow, aren't the 350 and 550 exactly the same, except the 550 has 7.1 analog outputs for use with older receivers/processors that can't accept an HDMI input?
Good Listening!
On paper sony and reviewers more or less state that, but no the S550 has a substantially heavier structured chassis and transport… IN the box of the S550 you get the USB card included… And even though the S350 is listed as 2.0 profile capable, that’s exactly it, its "Capable" but I guess you have to go and get a USB card and do the firmware updates as it will not be setup out of the box. There is little info on this but seems to be true…

Beyond that they both seem to deep color mode if your display is capable which mostly you need a pretty advanced and new panel to do it, and both have options to actually change your Data out if using the coax or toslink to priority settings and picking 16/48 or 24/96 format…

Other than that the S550 is even a little faster loading, but I don't know if this is simply due to it has the Blu ray 2.0 profile firmware already loaded or not, but I assume even though this is for online menus etc.. that it could be effecting the Blu ray disc load menu as well.. Not sure..

Oh and the S550 has a nice Backlight on the remote, the s350 does not.. So there are a few upscale features just in build and performance it seems beyond just the true HD surround 7.1 modes etc… Also the Entire S550 body is coated in a Very thick and hardened Piano laquer finish (Think Pioneer Elite series) and the S350 is in the basic generic black chip paint. The S550 is a taller and heavier unit however, so for compact and basically the same video performance the S350 may be better for some..

For those looking into the all out performance and the perks of better build (quieter transport) etc… The S550 does that as a nice step up, but obviously is not really marketed that way. Also as you state the S550 does have 7.1 analog outputs, however also has capability of all the newer surround true dolby etc. formats native to blu ray, the s350 does not decode this HDMI OR ANalog.
Congrads to Mcroth66 .His 1st Post on AGon. After lurking for many many years.8 plus years ?A very knowledgable guy with "Golden Ears". Uncle J
Not wanting to start an SACD thread. Just saying that if he has never heard SACD it would be a great OPPOrtunity for him to check it out. Will SACD replace CD? Probably not. IMO SACD it is the best digital format at this time and can be a lot of fun making comparisons. At this point you can search through almost 6,000 SACD titles and find some really good deals, on line of course. Also Blue Note and MoFi are coming out with several new releases on SACD. SACD might not survive simply because not enough people care about that type of sound quality, but it will be a niche market for some time to come (vinyl?).

In regards to Sony not including SACD on the lasest Blu Ray player, I believe it was strictly a cost decision. Sony needed to stay around the $300 price range during these tough economic times. It's all about sales. Sony's lastest SACD player was the SCD-XA5400ES. It was just released a few months ago. Two differnt machines.

Having said that, if SACD means nothing to you then by all means look into the S550. But if you think you might enjoy a wonderful fulfilling digital format called SACD, then I would wait for the Oppo and then make your decision.
Why thank you Uncle J!
Again that was my exact point driven home… No point of waiting or paying more for a pretty much underground format that has been around for 10 years if you don't own an extensive collection.. Which by the way I am a huge oppo supporter, also was a SACD adaptor, but now in the end you can see where all this is going.. Part of the issue is that in fact if you are big on SACD you already have or can have a killer player or you would not be that highly invested in the format, and guess what Oppos SACD aint all that great, unless you go and do a mystical modded machine available from the various modders out on this site and dump another 1000 bucks to do their recommended advancements into these 300 dollar transports! So from my point of view if your already a OPPO 983 owner, keep it and get a damn good blu ray machine calling it a day, because I can tell you right now most of oppos sales will be based on somebody owning the 983 machine and coming back wanting it all in one again… That’s just silly if your on the consumer end of it!

Interesting thing is that in fact somewhere I read even under their breath oppo would not have even released the 983 had 3 months later they known blu ray would win. Even as we SPEAK you can go on the used sites including this one and see a bunch more 983 units coming up for sale, probably due to a 50 - 50 split of they are either A- gearing up to go and spend double on the new Oppo machine with blu ray to keep up with the jones, or B - because they have finally gone out and seen the capability of Blu ray and decided they will no longer invest in standard DVD…

Which in fact is the next issue that most have put all their stock into oppo over the past 4 or 5 years because nobody had a better upscalling machine to 480p, 720p, or 1080p so it had a good market, but I am here to say don't worry about that, because not only does the new sony machines blow the doors of standard DVD with blu ray, but does the Standard DVD picture as good as the oppo for the most part so you lose nothing. That being said if you need an all in one universal and definitely can not live with having 2 machines on your Rack being one for SACD and standard DVD if you choose and another for blu ray, by all means wait it out and buy a far more expensive player…But even at that point for most today I would HIGHLY recommend staying away from the universal machine because you would be far better serving yourself with an even better sounding stand alone SACD - CD player if your that highly invested in it, and a Good Blu ray player which probably will cost you no more than the new oppo.

There is only 2 reasons most would wait on the oppo to pay for it at this point, 1- the need for upscalling pristine standard DVD playback and fear no other machine due to trust oppo has gained can do it, and 2- because they really NEED SACD and possibly DVD-A which is completely gone much like HD-DVD and in fact supposedly the new Oppo might just drop DVD-A all together but seems to promise keeping SACD on board.

Just my opinion as I have seen the scurry and rush many times now of people wasting time and money especially on audiogon reselling these machines almost overnight!           
Agreed Undertow. Just saying that if one has never heard SACD and does not care about having it within their Blu Ray player now would be a great time to check it out. I still can't believe so many people have never even listened to SACD. Good luck Kalle.
Part of the answer depends on what receiver your have. If your receiver can decode the new audio formats (DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital TrueHD) then you can go for the less expensive versions (like Panny 35 and Sony 350). But if your receiver does not decode them and you want the player to decode these formats and send them to your receiver over HDMI 1.1 and via multi channel analog, then you need to go for the higher priced ones (Panny 55 or Sony 550). If your receiver does not have any of the above, then you can go with the lower cost ones and use optical or digital connections although you will not get the new audio formats. If you go with with a player that does not decode the new formats, then the Panny 35 is hard to beat.
Thanks for all of your responses guys, they all have been informative making my decision on which units to look at quite easy. Undertow, I appreciate the link to your past discussion on this subject which will eliminate a ton of leg work on my part.
Based on my needs and audio gear it looks like the Sony 550 is the one to look at since the Panasonics have all dried up in the stores locally and have become quite evasive. I can't really see waiting for the Oppo to hit the market since I mainly watch movies during the winter months and we can only wait to see if it will live up to it's expectations when released for production.
Again thanks for the solid info, now I can go out and make a choice that will best suite my A/V needs.
Panasonics dried up because they are discontinued! CES has the new versions like the BD 45 and 65 or something like that... The sony is far superior trust me, and very affordable, with future update ability so don't worry too much.. And the nice thing is you can get a S550 at the local Target, best buy or anywhere really to just try it out vs. many other models, and if you did not like it for some reason return it no questions asked, however you will of course get a far better deal online, but you can lose shipping it back and forth.

Good Luck
Sony PS-3!
Problem with the PS3 is that it is not a very good transport for audio uses, and most want much smaller conventional audio/video components for their rack and hi end systems.. The S550 is essentially a PS3, but actually far better transport, and actually a better picture and audio options along with COAX & Toslink digital output etc... Which is far more universal for our needs. Also remember that the dedicated audio circuits in these units are quite a bit better than a PS3.

The S550 & S350 are the first machines that sony has produced that is in fact a notch better than PS3 in the Blu ray field, this is pretty well known and reviewed elsewhere. And in this case actually it is to be found cheaper than even PS3 finally..
I believe that the Sony S550 lacks the special functions that most DVD players have .
Like slow motion, frame by frame,advance etc.
Can anyone confirm this ?
Not to sound like a S550 basher but after doing a little research this morning about the S350, which is very similar in video performance to the S550 according to Undertow and several others. If this is accurate, according to a few reviews standard dvd upconversion on the S350 is only fair. The Oppo players wiil exceed the standard dvd upconversion process of the S350 Or S550. So if you plan to use this player for standard dvd, be careful! If to be utilized for Blu Ray only, I say give it a shot. Awaiting input Undertow...
On my screen after adjustments... The S550 exceeds the the oppo 980 h, and is virtually equal to the 983, Again most DVD's have errors or flaws which will ghost or be fuzzy, or just crappy washed out color… No oppo fixes this.. however GOOD dvds' are just as Good on the S550….

And of course Blu ray is simply flawless, and that’s not necessarily a function that just the Sony machine is better at because many blu ray players are really good, so are 700 dollar LCD's vs 7000 dollar lcd from 5 years ago! The format of blu ray fixes many issues no standard DVD will, however I have many newer and well done DVD's that are in fact basically as good as Blu ray in many ways, and during 1080p 6o fps DVD upconversion is done just as perfect on the S550 as it is on any oppo, again in some cases even better, and The Sony does in fact do Blu Ray 1080p 24 fps which is not beat anyway.. Again the guys holding onto some kinda "Special Function" or specific niche in a product that will cost more money GO FOR IT!! But if your looking for flawless Blu ray and DVD quality, with some nice functions and Perks for audio than the Sony is your machine for a price that will not be matched…

If you want much more for whatever you have a special need for no doubt anything can be bettered for your specific requirments.. However I am simply talking for CORE performance nothing will be better and especially at the near dirt cheap pricing we are talking here than the Sony.. And I am a custom hard core Audio video guy.. More audio, but videophile is a whole thing that almost anybody can see differences visually and much easier to explain than somebodys audio taste… You want perfect video go for it, if you need many other specific functions go do your own comparisons and find the best for your needs.

By the way a confusing but maybe slightly important factor here is OPPO sells with their machine the best HDMI made… It is a generic so to speak but basically the best available on the market, and I use this same cable to do all comparisons.. Now somebody going and purchasing a new panasonic, or sony whatever and using some 50 dollar Monster cable might get a different result, and they are not even as good of cables!! I forget who makes the cable its on oppos site I believe and it is highly accepted as being a perfect standard cable.. I can also tell you even an OPPO on a cheap Radio shack HDMI which I had looks worse!! They will tell you even they specifically use this cable and are one of the only companies that ships their units with a cable anymore to specifically make sure you get the video performance they want you to see. This may or may not be a factor to keep in mind, also I DO NOT use standard Power cables in my system, on the oppo or on the SONY, I have found a BIG difference in GHOSTING on the screen, color depth, and simply Video noise using far better heavy shielded power cables for best performance on these units, so yes for some you may not get or be able to expect perfection out of the box without some attention to tweaking your display on each machine, and delivering the results with the best cables and power feeding all this equipment. So again I will use the stupid audiogon tag line 'YMMV'

In the end once again you can chance ordering and risking anything you like, but the good thing is about the sony is it hits all points to be a good standard in performance, AND it can be bought right down the street from your house and returned in 30 days if you can't get it to work out for you!     
By the way I am being a little sarcastic here, but for me slow motion yada yada is the least of my worries watching a movie or playing a CD! Is there some major Blu ray porn releases out there for this or something :-) Seriously though I have no clue, and this is probaly the least priority I see most people caring about for most movie and music functions, at least I have never had a use for such things, hell I don't even care about multi angle features that started coming on DVD players 10 years ago! Anyway for 300 bucks this kinda stuff would not keep me from having the best machine for the job, my main issue with all the blu ray machines is their inability to save some previous disc stop spots, but not a big deal at this point.     
As a final note on absolute standard DVD performance, either machine I have spent hours TWEAKING in with several factors in mind, I can make both perform as flawless as possible. And your display will make a big difference as well… As a matter of fact anybody with a 42" or lower screen will probably think both are perfect nearly out of the box… its when you get into some more sizeable flaw enhancing hard driven systems that certain things will need to be addressed. You could sit all day going crazy over making ever single disc look nearly perfect. I have in the end found the sony to be the best of all worlds, and of course there is a little bias as its just flat out capable of a function that the oppo is not, Blu ray… Now no doubt when oppo comes with a machine at double the price it will be a very good machine, but not for me or most knowing how to get this performance in the first place, accept if you really are banking on some audio formats that you really want the oppo for.

Besides all this, I appreciate many own 100's of standard DVD's and need the best possible way to play all this back over the years.. But guess what DVD's are basically worth 2 bucks now, and blu ray is slowly replacing them, but I own Vinyl too, and would not settle for anything less than excellent Analog playback on a turntable, but guess what don't expect a new CD player to be able to sound as good!! This is the same on blu ray vs. DVD… I actually don't care on DVD if it is just a TAD behind blu ray performance, It SHOULD BE! No ACTUALLY IT BETTER BE!! Or we just wasted all this time and money on nothing! So if your goodfather collection on DVD from 10 years ago looks as good or better on an oppo than the newly released version on blu ray with any blu ray machine don't buy a blu ray machine at all! See my point?              
Very good point made about the HDMI cables. Cables DO make a difference, even with ones and zeros. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link. I knew you would have something interesting to add.
Yep, I see your point EXACTLY. I'm having deja vu....SACD vs CD. Hope Blu Ray makes it!
Blu ray is accessable and in every house wives, kids(ps3), and video stores FACE!!

Funny story I HAD ZERO INTEREST in Blu ray, MY WIFE PUSHED FOR IT!!! THATS A first and scary transition in our hobby of technical audio video B.S.! I quite honestly cared less, I am old school audio, I love a good movie, but remember this stuff for people watching on TV and every single DVD preview seeing this cool looking new technology and Sonys name attached its a far bigger exposure than some old dusty recording from the 60's being transfered hopefully well onto a DSD recording.

It has already made it, as a matter of fact My local best buy, Target, and rental joints all have new movies and MORE shelves almost dedicated to blu ray vs. standard DVD.. Blu ray has already supposedly in percentages outsold the beginnings of DVD from the first years mid 90's… You will see the big sellers on Amazon etc.. and selections are very much becoming the hot items just as the IPOD! The world did not need SACD, it wanted Blu ray, there is a big difference.. And I can tell you the menu system, the Sound, the Picture on ANY system are far superior to DVD, SACD needed to have better equipment and recordings started from SCRATCH… Hollywood is already virtually 100% using HD cameras for all movies now, And even your local government is forcing HD digital as the signal of choice… So yes Blu ray is not a remote cry to what SACD was for many many reasons.

But for SURE the pricing on Discs will need to drop into DVD cost levels very very soon.. 30 bucks a disc will not hold up long.
Don't be so sure of Blu Ray making it in the world of internet downloading, VOD services, etc. It is not about HD, it is about the way the HD enters our home. But I do like your enthusiasm, it reminds me of how I used to try and get people to love SACD.
Just to add, I am NOT saying do not invest in Blu Ray now. It is an awesome format. It is here now and for $300 bucks you will get your monies worth. Enjoy!
Right I understand what you are saying, I agree the "DISC" format may not make it for sure!! And downloads will become more of the norm and renting etc... However for the time being the blu ray is a nice touch, but thats not what we are selling here, its about a machine up to date that will not cost too much and get you more or less what you need to enjoy the overall experience of this thing..
AND just like CD will not go away its because some people especially several older generations of 40 and above will likely still just want somebody to hand them a disc to put in and hit play.. So internet etc.. is hot, but not everybody understands it or will have the fastest easiest download equipment to do it.. Get back to me in 5 years, and I will agree the "DISC" itself is probably on the way out..

Again as for SACD I am not enthusiastic about it or Blu ray, but Blu ray audio will essentially be available and superior to even this, again its more of a universal approach and solution..

SACD was the total wrong attempt and not tied to anything or anybodys capabilities in the past.
One last comment..SACD is also here now and I'm enjoying every second I get a chance to listen to it. There will always be something better, enjoy what you have now until the upgrade bug bites again. Ha! Remember Sony's sales pitch about CD- "Perfect Sound Forever" Yea, right and I was going to be with my 8th grade girlfriend "forever". Have fun!
Agreed there are better transports than the PS3. I use my Exemplar for music, an Oppo for DVD, and the PS3 for Blu-Ray and the great games with my 11 year old daughter.

The PS3 is however a great Blu-Ray player.
I'm enjoying the new Samsung BD2500 with Netflix streaming... It's in your price range and HT mag have very nice things to say about it.